03/01/2012 4:51PM

Charles Town: Four full fields line up to launch new starter series

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Four full fields of 10 horses are expected to contest the first leg of the newly created Charles Town Starter Tournament on Saturday night.

Counting also-eligibles, 55 horses, all of whom ran for a claiming price of $5,000 or less since Jan. 1, 2001, were entered. Saturday’s quarterfinal races are each worth $25,000 and run at 6 1/2 furlongs, with the top five finishers in each going on to compete in the $30,000, seven-furlong semifinals on March 24. The top five finishers in the semifinals will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the $55,000 championship on Charles Town Classic Night, April 14.

The West Virginia Racing Commission granted special status to the series, allowing all horses to run as uncoupled betting interests, regardless of common ties in ownership or trainer.

All nominees were weighted and seeded by racing secretary William Wehrman. The top three seeds are Albrecht (race 8); Plasma Beam (race 7); and Yano (race 6). The first heat (race 5) is wide open, due to the expected scratches of the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, Awesome Rhythm and Big Boy Charlie.

Since winning his maiden for a $5,000 tag at Charles Town last June, Albrecht has won five more times for owner-trainer Daniel O’Ryan. Plasma Beam has 3 wins and 1 second in 4 starts against starter allowance company in Kentucky since being claimed for $12,500 by trainer Joe Woodard. The 6-year-old Yano has won three of his last four starts, all in starter allowances in Maryland.